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Mid-Century Modern Organic Colors

Mid-Century Modern (MCM) comes from the mid-1900s. The characteristics are refined lines, minimalist silhouettes and natural shapes, using new materials such as molded plastic, aluminum and plywood. Some of the more famous names who designed for this look include Saarinen, Niemeyer, Eams, Noguchi and Jacobsen.

The beauty of this long lasting design is the way any of the pieces can work with many styles in design. Part of the impact of Mid-Century Modern is the color palette that was used. You will see that these colors are darker neutral tones with strong accent colors.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was historically influential designers of the simplicity, minimalist, organic forms that so adamantly announce the Mid-Century Modern style. In 1955 the paint company Martin-Senour sold the Frank Lloyd Wright color palette.

The Taliesin palette for Martin-Senour Paints

Martin-Senour Company | Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959 Chicago: The Martin-Senour Company (2520 S. Quarry Street), [1950?] [1] folded sheet ([4] p., [36] paint samples); 24 x 24 x .5 cm. [if !supportLineBreakNewLine] [endif]

Martin Senour was founded in 1878 and was acquired by Sherwin Williams in 1917. The beautiful palette Martin-Senour developed with Frank Lloyd Rich represented the rich hues in the landscape and environments of Taliesin West. Taliesin West is a historic house museum and still is a School of Architecture through the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

The original palette was structured with 36 colors. There are 16 hues on the left side of the card which are referred to as “baked earthen” tones, that include oranges, neutral browns and reds. Twenty additional hues on the right side of the fold of the card which are colors that we see in nature including the blues from the sky, yellow greens of the plants and tree; red, brown, tan and gray from the earth and rocks found in the desert. Wright’s favorite color was a deep vibrant red, which is known as Cherokee Red.

When preparing a room to have the Mid-Century Modern look, choosing colors that are historically affiliated with MCM colors begins the process of authenticity. When choosing colors follow the rule of 60% dominant base color, 30% secondary color and just 10% accent color. Stay with three colors, or up to four color choices, but no more as you will lose the look and continuity of the MCM style when you distract the eye with too many colors.

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